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Merry Christmas stuff

Farmer, preacher, theologian and anti-racism activist Clarence Jordan:

Jesus has been so zealously worshipped, his deity so vehemently affirmed, his halo so brightly illumined, and his cross so beautifully polished that in the minds of many he no longer exists as a man. By thus glorifying him we more effectively rid ourselves of him than did those who tried to do so by crudely crucifying him.

Thanks to Daniel Sturgeon for the quote, which goes along rather nicely with some sermonising I did at my church on Sunday.

21 December 2012
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Creation re-rewritten

Professor Christine Hayes shows how the creation accounts of Genesis, in opposition to the Babylonian idea of Earth as a result of arrogant violent warring gods, brilliantly re-imagine the origin of the world as God’s word causing harmony to spring from formlessness (lectures two and three).

In a kind of similar way, Kurt Willems shows how the gospel of John brilliantly re-imagines the Genesis creation stories to demonstrate the origin of a new creation through Jesus.

Happy Easter!

7 April 2012
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The strength and frailty of hope

13 December 2011
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In which I show that Remembrance Sunday would be better named ‘Collective Amnesia Sunday’

On Sunday our nation will stand in silence to remember those who died fighting for our country, as will I. But we Christians, in our rush to remember one thing often forget many other things.

We forget that while our young people were fighting the bad guys to protect our way of life, the bad guys thought we were the bad guys and were fighting to protect their way of life.

We forget Dresden, Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition.

We forget shooting deserters, shell shock, nightmares and PTSD.

We forget that we ask teenagers to kill people for the sake of oil or ‘national interests’ or ‘terrorist threats’ and then expect them to come home and live normal lives.

We forget that war disproportionately kills the poor, uneducated and the oppressed of every nation while the rich and the privileged disproportionally sit at home and talk about noble sacrifice.

We forget that the ‘freedom’ we claim our soldiers fight for is often little more than a marketing strategy designed to make us continue to live as good little consumer cogs in a machine creating obscene wealth for a few.

We forget that our ‘Christian’ nation is responsible for the death of thousands of people who called themselves Christians and thousands more who never heard about the love of Jesus.

We forget that we Christians are citizens of the Kingdom of God, called to live as strangers and aliens in the kingdoms of this world. We forget that the Kingdom of Great Britain is included in ‘the kingdoms of this world’.

We forget that the weapons God has given us are mighty for pulling down the strongholds of this world’s systems and instead we choose to fight with the weapons of this world, spreading death in the name of life. We forget that our unquestioning participation in remembrance Sunday is an endorsement of the system that will one day send our children to die.

We forget that Jesus calls us to put down our swords and take up our crosses.

We forget that God so loved the whole world – not just the white, English speaking portions of it – that he gave his one and only son.

We forget that Jesus came so that humanity might have life to the full. We forget that Jesus personified the antithesis of his coming as a thief who steals, kills and destroys. We forget that the main business of war, no matter how noble we suppose it to be, is to steal, kill and destroy. We forget that war is inherently anti-Christ.

We forget that the two great commandments are to love God and love our neighbours with everything that we are. We forget that patriotism will always ask us to compromise our love for God. We forget that we cannot love our neighbours while we are killing them. We forget that Jesus closed every loophole that might allow us to categorise another human as Not My Neighbour.

We forget that even if a nation insists that they are not our neighbour but our enemy, we are called to love our enemies.

We forget that the lesser of two evils is still evil and that the bible tells us to overcome evil with good.

We forget that the greatest of these is love.

On Sunday, remember those who have died, and as you stand silent, remember the bloodthirsty system that killed them. Remember that you have stepped out of that system and taken the side of Jesus who loves all people with an unstoppable love.

12 November 2011
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Merry Christmas, everyone!

I’m sure you were hoping desperately for a family newsletter, being such close friends and all, but if you look closely at this photo, you will understand our year, our family dynamics, probably even our entire life. (This year instead of cards, we are giving an equivalent amount of money to Cymru Community Foodshare.)

20 December 2009
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Happy Valentine's Day

I haven’t posted this until now because I wanted some time to pass after the week when super designer Marian Bantjes gave a more creative valentine to me (and all her other clients) than I gave to my beloved wife.

In early February one of Marian’s Trademark translucent envelopes came through the door. It contained eight little pink squares. After a bit Christine figured out what they spelled:


Keep reading
9 March 2008
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They know that Santa's on his way

Merry Christmas!

At least the littlest one does. She made sure his snack was ready before she went to bed.


25 December 2007
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Secularise it, baby!

If I was going to write a polemic on Christians and Christmas, I wouldn’t actually need to because Tia Lynn over at Abandon Image has already done it:

pretend for a moment that there is a diabolical plot among politicians, the ACLU, secularists, the liberal media, and businesses to “do away” with Christmas (there ARE people who despise any public recognition of anything even remotely religious). Pretend businesses would actually be stupid enough to take down the biggest money making holiday of the year and all “traditional” Christmas decorations, songs, and rituals were removed from the public square. If this happened, Christians should be thrilled! That’s right, THRILLED.

Read it all here.

21 December 2007
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It's the most covetous time of the year

The thing about Christmas is that it is so easy and fun to poke holes in our own greed. That is the point of this video which we showed at our church yesterday. The production values are not fantastic, but it’s not so bad for a little video camera and iMovie.

In case you are wondering…

26 November 2007
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Halloween: the Christian's second most important holiday

Easter is, of course, the winner. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus there would be no Christianity. That is important to celebrate.

I am relegating Christmas to the number three spot because it is owned by commerce. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful family holiday. Yes, we Christians celebrate the incarnation of God (even though Jesus never said we should). Yes, I love Christmas. But frankly, we Christians just don’t own it anymore. The shops do.

We don’t own Halloween either, but we could.

I grew up hearing about the evils of Halloween – satan worship, demons, razor blades in apples – not from my parents, but from the Christian culture I lived in. I grew up going to Halloween alternative events, having lots of fun in my bible character costume, knowing that I was safe from all the devil-worshiping psychos that were certain to get me if I dared to risk knocking at the doors of the heathens in my neighbourhood.

Then one year I tried it, and I didn’t die.

As soon as my son was old enough (3) I introduced him to the joys of trick-or-treating. That was when I started realising that Halloween is the second most important holiday for Christians.

Jesus said there are two commands that matter: love God and love your neighbour. The Easter holiday is all about the first command. Halloween is all about the second.

What other day of the year can you put on funny clothes and be welcomed at your neighbour’s house? In my neighbourhood Halloween is the only day of the year that that people actually get out of their houses and chat with the neighbours that they don’t know. It is a night of celebrating community.

In the neighbourhood behind our church they throw a party at the shop and lots of people come out and have a great time. That’s where we went trick-or-treating last year.

On Halloween people let down their guard and come out of their houses. And unlike Christmas, it is not fraught with expectations and busy-ness. So here is my plan of how Christians are going to take over Halloween:

Full disclosure: I will be on holiday over Halloween this year, so for me this is more of a memo for 2008.

1. Ignore the demons and the occultists. (Almost) no one else in your neighbourhood cares in the least about that stuff. They are interested in costumes and sweets. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good, not with huddled prayer meetings in the church basement. If you want a prayer meeting, do it on the 30th. If you want to do some real spiritual warfare, put on some silly clothes and go hang out with your neighbours.

2. Cancel your anti- and alternative events. In the words of Disney’s little mermaid, ‘I want to be where the people are.’ Hint: they live around you in those house-shaped things. Stay home, put some pumpkins in the window, hand out a bunch of sweets (not tracts!) and have a nice chat with all the witches and axe-murderers that come by. Even better, go outside and meet the little ghouls’ parents lurking at the bottom of the drive.

3. Be positive and proactive. Find out in advance where the nervous old people live. Let them know that there will be adults out and about and that you will keep an eye on their house. Have some extra glowsticks to give to kids who need to be more visible. Find good places to hide so you can jump out and scare the trick-or-treaters. If you are feeling really ambitious, have an open house/garden with games and hot chocolate and snacks.

4. Check your motivation. You are doing this because God commands us to love people, not because you are trying to score crowns in heaven by getting converts. People can smell a rat a mile away.

5. Make Halloween the starting place. Probably sometime over the course of the evening you will meet somebody and there will be a bit of a connection. Go with it. Invite them to join you for bonfire night. Have their kid over to play with yours. Give the relationship opportunity to grow. And remember it is about loving people, not converting them. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun (and useful) than anything else you could be doing Halloween night?

19 October 2007
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